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The Rachel Maddow Show

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Us 13, Debbie Haverson 11, Robert Gibbs 8, John Mccain 8, Cia 6, Washington 6, U.s. 6, Iran 5, Phillips 5, John Brennan 5, John 5, Pakistan 5, Chicago 5, Robin Kelly 4, Ford 4, Chris Hayes 4, Rachel 4, Nra 3, Msnbc 3, Mr. Brennan 3,
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  MSNBC    The Rachel Maddow Show    News/Business.  (2013) New.  

    February 25, 2013
    6:00 - 7:00pm PST  

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dimension. he thanked his wife for putting up him as a terrible husband. then he told the members of the academy he was not going to get revenge on them. whoever thought he was going to get revenge on them? i don't understand. >> best picture? >> best picture, we knew it was going to be "argo." we knew it was the pity vote. we knew he didn't get best director. and it glorified hollywood. it made hollywood people look heroic. >> spielberg didn't get a lot of love. >> a lot of spielberg hatred. i can't account for it at all. i thought he did a beautiful job on "lincoln," but i thought ang lee did a beautiful job with "life of pi" as well. everybody should rush to the heater to see "life of pi." ang lee is a very charming fellow. christoph waltz was a surprise. wonderfully adorable as he splatters slave owners all over the screen. >> okay. the first lady. there have been -- it's not the
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first time a president or a first lady have appeared in an oscar. was this a hit? >> i loved michelle obama, and i thought this was really a horrible idea. it just felt wrong. it felt like another universe entering in there. i mean oscar -- movies are pretend. this was like -- i don't know. all the formality and the guards behind her. and it seemed creepy to me. and pairing her with jack nicholson? >> that was interesting. definitely gave him some cover. but quickly, would it have worked better obviously if she had been there? would it have worked if she was there? >> i don't think she should have been there. she doesn't belong there. hollywood has its own royalty. it has its own first ladies and first men. that's what the evening is about. oh, daniel day lewis, a god, a god. absolutely a god. and he was slightful. he was funnier than seth macfarlane. >> david edelstein, great to have you with us.
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>> see you next year. >> yes, you will. that's "the ed show." i'm ed schultz. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. >> good evening. the only thing that is going to top yours and david edelstein's take at the oscars last night is the take we have coming up on iran. iran had a very serious reaction to first lady. we're going to be getting to that in a minute. >> they're paying attention. >> i guess that's good. at least we know they're watching. thanks a lot, man. take it easy. and thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. one of the major challenges that the republican party had this past election cycle was that their presidential candidate did not attract much interest. i don't mean that in a personal sense. i don't mean it to be mean. i mean it in a technical sense, in a measurable sense. if during this election cycle you gave people the option of clicking online on something that said barack obama or you gave people the option of clicking online on something that said mitt romney, more people would click on the thing that said barack obama. consistently. by a lot. in a controversial article last
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summer right in the heat of the campaign, an article that acknowledged what everybody else in the media already knew was true, but had not admitted outloud, the website buzz of feed finally put a headline on it and put it up in black and white. mitt romney is terrible for traffic. they mean web traffic. they did what essentially amounted to a control experiment in terms of people's interest online in the two candidates. look. 29 photos of baby barack obama versus 30 photos of mitt romney as a child. essentially, you're offering the same thing. reliably adorable childhood images of people you know now as full grown men. it's the same comparison, apples to apples. the photos of baby obama got just under 70,000 views. the photos of baby romney just over 6,000 views. that is worse than 10 to 1. okay, maybe it's a baby thing. how about if we age them a little. barack obama, i have to say, was
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not the world's most handsome teenager. those were kind of his awkward years, whereas mitt romney was quite possibly the world's best teenager. they both ended up as very handsome adult men, but they went through their awkward periods, their gawky periods at different ages. but even with that, again, the young man photos of barack obama get roughly 70,000 views. the comparable votes of young man mitt romney get less than 1/5 that number. this is not a republican versus democrat thing or a conservative versus liberal thing either. at the height of her powers, put sarah palin's click per headline stats up against any democrat you can imagine or any combination of democrats you can imagine and she would blow everybody out of the water. conservatives can attract interest. just not this one, for whatever reason. the romney campaign even today is still trying to defend their online presence during the presidential campaign.
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the campaign senior strategist wrote in the op said in the "washington post" today that president obama did not win the election because he won the facebook wars. he won the facebook wars because he was winning the election. whatever you need to tell yourself, big guy. but regardless whether or not it was the fault of the romney folks, people's relative disinterest in him compared to his democratic opponent ended up being an important dynamic. it ended up being an important part of understanding how that campaign unfolded overall. well, that controversial but true story from buzzfeed about the relative online appeal of each candidate, that was last summer, june of 2012. mitt romney is terrible for traffic. now buzzfeed has given us the sequel. now we must all admit that there is another thing that is terrible for traffic, a thing that i will not say outloud for fear that you will turn off this television show if i do. it is the thing going on in washington right now that is a crisis, a self-inflicted preplanned crisis that the white
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house and congress agreed ahead of time to inflict on themselves and on the country. it turns out it is the 2013 equivalent of a baby picture of mitt romney in 2012. awww, yeah, not interesting. the pugh researcher is for the people in the press did a big research poll where they asked people what they're paying attention to in the news. it turns out that self-inflicted crises in washington aren't what they used to. they compared crises in the first big fight over the debt court of appealing that president obama had with congress in the summer of 2011, they found half the country was paying a lot of attention to that crisis. compare that to the number of people paying attention to this crisis, which substantively is just as big a deal. it turns out it's only half as interesting to the country. only 27% of the country is paying a great deal attention to this current crisis. and honestly, you know what? you can see why. this is not the part where i'm going to give you some lament about the country being shallow or craven or easily distracted.
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i think actually we're smart, and we do not like falling for things more than once. and what they are pulling in washington right now is an old trick. for the first two years that president obama was in office, you will recall that democrats also controlled the house and the senate. and together they passed health reform, they passed wall street reform, they passed the lilly ledbetter pay act, they reformed credit cards, ratify start treatly. they got a lot done, which is what you would expect to when one party controls the branches. then in 2010, as is wont to happen, the pendulum swung back in the other direction and the republicans took control of the house. once republicans got sworn in january 2011, we started this new game that we do now as a country. republicans were sworn in the house in january. by early april, just a few short weeks later, a couple of months after taking over the house,
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they were already veering within less an hour of a government shutdown. house speaker john boehner announces the deal just before 11:00 p.m. the agreement comes together in a few frantic hours at the capitol with a mid light deadline looming. that was the drama, remember? the first government shutdown fun times fight of the new congress. that's the one where just about the last republican demand standing which they ultimately let go of was shutting down funding for planned parenthood. they put the whole government hinging on that. that was april 2011. three months after they got sworn in, they came within minutes of shutting down the government. and then three months after that, ding ding ding, time future a crisis again. july 2011. it was the down-to-the-wire self-imposed hair on fire crisis of the debt ceiling. we might not make good on the country's debts. we're going the make this a crisis when we don't need to. but we're going to self-inflict this crisis. running up to that brink got our nation's credit rating downgraded. and that was so much fun, they
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didn't even wait three months for the next self-imposed crisis. they threatened another shutdown in september 2011. this time shutdown averted with just days to spare. and then we took a break for the election. and as soon as the election was over, everybody rushed back to the brink. december 2012, the fiscal cliff. self-imposed crisis. economic armageddon. everybody cancel your new year's plans. we have arranged a new crisis for ourselves. and as planned, we are on if brink. and now we're having another one. it's apparently our odd year cycle now. when we're in an odd year when there isn't an election going on, every two or three months, we put the country in dire economic danger on purpose. and the reason i me that that's the schedule is because after this current crisis whose name shall not be spoken on this television show, after this current crisis passes, however it gets resolved, the next two crises we're going to have are already preplanned. they're already on the calendar. we're going to be due for another government shutdown standoff, fun times crisis next month, and then the next debt ceiling crisis is already teed
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up for a short time later, roughly in may. president obama spoke to the nation's governors today gathered for the national governors association meeting. he asked governors to advise their congressional delegations about how this current crisis would hurt their state, how it would be a dumb and serious self-inflicted wound, and congress shouldn't do it. house republican leaders held a press conference today in which they each explained in term how bad this crisis will be if they do not fix it before the brink arrived a the end of the week, and they also announce they'd plan to do nothing to avoid it. their strategy seems to be yes, this will be an unnecessary self-inflicted wound to the country, but we plan to let it happen anyway, and somehow we plan to benefit from it politically anyway because we have genius political messaging around this self-inflicted wound. what is the all-healing republican messaging around this crisis? well, if you ask orrin hatch, he says it would lead to an economic disaster. if you ask his republican colleague tom price, congressman, it would get this economy rolling again.
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according to republican congressman jeff miller, this crisis will throw our nation into another recession. if you ask republican senator rand paul, this crisis, it's a pittance. it's just really nibbling at the edges. no big deal. republican house speaker john boehner says this crisis threatens national security. republican congressman tom cole says fiscal questions trump defense. i can totally see how they are going to win the message war on this thing, right? they just have to pick one of their seven messages on it before deciding to award the points here. how this particular crisis is fought over to some people i'm sure is politically fascinating. to most of the country, though, it is unfascinating. it is not fascinating at all. it seems like the inarguably important and interesting thing here is that we keep doing this. this is how we govern now. between president obama and the republican-led house of representatives, this is how the
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united states government works now. we're not lurching from crisis to crisis because crises keep arising naturally in the world and we have to respond to them, we're lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis to crisis because we keep creating new crises on purpose to lurch toward. this is a plan. the relationship between the president and congress has been purposefully structured now so they accomplish the basic questions of governing only threw supposed leverage derived from threatening the country and people feeling afraid of those cuts. but now wolf has been cried. this trick is old enough now that this may be a crisis in term of the harm that is about to be inflicted on the country, but it is not a crisis in the sense that anybody feels particularly crisisy about it. nobody feels any one way in particular about it. everybody is trying not to think about it, because this just keeps happening over and over again. this is a tactic. this is one way you can run a country. but if this tactic depends on us being riveted through fear or
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outrage or just interest or sheer deadline-driven drama, that's over. it doesn't work anymore. we have done this enough times now that we're inured. we're over it. so now what this tactic means is you are just wantonly proposing harming the country. and we are waiting without much interest to see whether or not you're going to do it. do normal countries do this? do normal countries govern this way? is this in any sense normal for us? has our country ever been run this way before for a significant amount of time? joining us now is michael beschloss, nbc presidential historian and author of nine books on politics and political figures. great to see you. >> good to see you, rachel, of course. >> the last question there, does this happen at other times in american history where the president and the congress function this way? >> not quite like this. you know, this was james madison's idea, that you would have a presidency and a congress
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opposing each other. that way no one would get too much power. but if madison came back tonight, i think he would tear out what little hair he had. and the reason is that you saw someone like andrew jackson or harry truman campaigning against congress well and good. but it's only in recent years that you've had this almost nuclear game of chicken that we're seeing now. and we also saw in 1995 with bill clinton and newt gingrich. and i think one dangerous thing about right now is that on both sides, people tend to be a little bit sanguine in remembering 1995. through a political lens, there may even be some democrats who say it turned out to be good for the democrats because clinton was able to position himself as a moderate, keeping the barbarians from the gate. and on the republican side they can say yes, we took some heat for being confrontational, but didn't we win both houses of congress in 1996? so i think that memory is a very dangerous thing. and it certainly isn't a break on this rush to the edge of
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destruction that we're seeing right now. >> because the fights are over fiscal issues and economic issues broadly speaking, i have to ask about how much of a threat to the country we are seeing and how much actual damage we are seeing inflicted. i mean republicans in particular have argued a lot about the idea of economic uncertainty. >> sure. >> that we should pursue governments in a way that we don't put too many question marks ahead of the american people and business in terms of what is coming down the pike. is harm being done, is there a historical lens we can tell whether or not it's being done? >> i think bill clinton would have said that in 1993. he had a deficit reduction plan that he sent to congress with an effort to give people an idea of what they could expect from this economy. and if he were here, he would complain that not a single republican on either side voted for his plan. so that would have been against the idea of economic security. but at the same time, there may be some republicans, and i hope there sure are not, but some of them may ebb the fact that when
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there is a recession, it usually isn't named after someone in congress. it's usually named after a president. and i hope that some are not cavalier than idea. that. >> has been alleged off and on over the past few years by democrats talking about republican obstruction in the congress. >> right. >> and they've always resisted it. but that has to loom over this. in terms of strategy, both sides have been talking about, and in some cases complaining about the outside game, whether or not it is appropriate to try to be engaging with the american people through the media, through political events rather than negotiating, rather than working in washington. what do you see -- how do i don't see the white house's effort to try to take its message on this directly to the states and the people? >> i think it will help, but it won't help in the way that it helped bill clinton to do that in 1995, because in 1995, a president's voice was a lot more dominant than it is right now. there was only one cable television network. the internet was primitive. a president had a lot bigger
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role in the national dialogue than a president does now. so i think barack obama cannot depend on his ability to frame this in a way that he would like to see it frapd. >> one last question for you, and this may be prescriptive in the way i ask it, in which case you can scold me or not answer. >> i would never scold you, rachel. >> when presidents have had particularly difficult relationships with congress in the past, what are the ways out of that for presidents? obviously, part of it is blunt force, just win further elections. >> sure. >> by increasingly bludgeoning numbers and overwhelming your opponents. that's one approach. everybody wants to do that, but not everybody can. >> right. >> how else have presidents gotten themselves out of messes like this? >> hate to say it, rachel, but one way they did it is to say we're in a cold war, and if we do not make it up with our opponents in congress, it's going to be a danger to national security. if we don't have money going to military bases, that might invite the soviets to attack. one reason you have seen these confrontations in '95 and now
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now, you wouldn't have seen it during the cold war. now there is no longer that kind of overwhelming threat. and so i think congress feels and presidents, people around presidents sometimes feel it's not as dangerous. >> michael beschloss, nbc historian. i both feel smarter from talking to you and i feel lucky to have you here. >> thank you, rachel. thanks very much. all right. former white house press secretary robert gibbs turned a lot of heads over the weekend when he spoke out recording the obama administration's controversial drone program. he did that on chris hayes' show yesterday, and it was kind of a blockbuster. robert gibbs is here tonight to talk about the implications of what he revealed. and later on, an oscar fashion story from me, which is awkward for obvious reasons, took the government of iran to make it possible on this show. stay tuned. [ male announcer ] when these come together, and these come together, one thing you can depend on is that these will come together. delicious and wholesome. some combinations were just meant to be. tomato soup from campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do.
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hey. it's election eve, that story is coming up. plus, robert gibbs is here for the interview after the row
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"the new york times" reports that yesterday, shortly after 1:00 p.m. eastern, right in the middle of times square, a group of about 200 people who had just been milling around like ordinary tourists or like ordinary new yorkers, yesterday all at once on some secret signal, the 200 of them all threw their hands into the air at the same time and held their hands above their head, frozen, with no explanation. a long moment passed, and then
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they all sunk to the ground at the same time. 26 seconds elapsed. 26 seconds to represent the 26 victims killed in the shooting at sandy hook elementary school in december. with the symbolic victims laying on the ground in times square, others drew chalk outlines around their bodies and wrote in the victims' names there has been lat of public pressure since the sandy hook shootings to advance the discussion on gun control and gun violence. this pressure has come in many, many different forms. speeches, marches, protests, and now big flash mobs in times square. tomorrow in illinois we're going to get one of our first tests for how well that public pressure has worked. that story is coming up. also, we've got robert gibbs here on set. stay with us. so, this
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happy election eve. in the first election for federal office since we picked a president, vote willing begin tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. this will be the primary for the congressional seat that jesse jackson jr. resigned back in november. the district is in chicago, and in a chunk of the city's southern suburbs. it's a heavily democratic district. whoever wins the primary tomorrow is consider likely to win the seat overall and to take a seat in congress in april. because of the juicy democratic prospects, at the outset, 17 different democrats lined up to compete in this primary, which is crazy. the candidate with the most name recognition was former congresswoman debbie haverson, a reporter of gun rights who touts
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her a rating with the national rifle association. or who did tout that rating with the national rifle association before this year. because this is both the first election for federal office since we picked a president, and also the first federal election since newtown, since the elementary massacre at sandy hook elementary in december. even though she has touted her a rating from the nra in the past, now debbie haverson is now touting her support for universal background checks for gun purchases. this time around she insists she has not lobbied the nra for an endorsement. ooh, debbie haverson pals with the nra? you have the wrong number. that a rating from the nra must have been a political asset in the past, but now must seem more than it's worth. in january bloomberg started running ads against debbie haverson and another candidate in the race who also had an a rating from the nra. the ads have been inescapable in
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chicago and on tv. and even if you don't watch tv, a, you should. tv is way better now. but b, the bloomberg group has still been inescapable in the form of mailers to people they have been sending out in the district. lots and lots of mailers. quote, debbie haverson put the nra before our family's safety. and debbie haverson, a from the nra, f from illinois families. and debbie haverson's views on guns earned an a from the nra. if the nra says yes, we should say no. but the bloomberg pac ad onslaught making the nra and guns a big issue in this race, one of the formally pro nra candidates decided that she would drop out. state senator toi hutchinson left the race 48 hours after the bloomberg pac started advertising against her by name as well. gun reform was not all that big an issue at the beginning. but now that mike bloomberg has spent more than $2 million on this race, being seen as once an ally of the nra is apparently enough to get you to quit the race. and now tonight on the eve of
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the election, whether that all is enough to determine the winner of the primary, we do not know. and the hints about what is going to happen tomorrow are all wobbly, and therefore very interesting. one poll shows debbie haverson with a four-point lead even after all that bloomberg spending against her. now this poll i should tell you is the work of a local radio host and republican strategist, who was convicted a few years ago for falsifying signatures. he told us today we should not hold that against him. he just got caught on the wrong end of a political prosecution. anyway, his poll shows debbie haverson leading the pro-gun reform candidate who was endorsed by the bloomberg pac, that's robin kelly. a different poll from we ask america shows a very different result in the same race. in that poll, robin kelly leads by 18 points. now on this one i should tell you that the folks who conducted this survey describe it as an automated poll they did for a local political website.
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they would not release the full details of the poll. so we know very little about it. and we vouch for it as little as we vouch for the other poll. the only thing we know, of the two candidates we have got, the two kind of eh polls, robin kelly is in one of them up by 17 or 18 points, and in the other down by 4 points to debbie haverson. further, the chicago press is describing this as a three-way race now, not a two-way race. former congresswoman debbie haverson with the name recognition and the nra gold star, former state lawmaker robin kelly, who has based almost her entire campaign on stopping gun violence and who lives in the suburbs, but also another guy, chicago alderman anthony beale. alderman beal''s chance depend on turning out the wards in chicago where he was first elected in 1999. because this is a primary for a special election in a very off year, turnout is expected to be low. maybe as low as 20,000. and that's interesting enough, because a turnout of 20,000,
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congressional district to represent hundreds of thousands of people. but 20,000 people are going to make the decision? that's low enough that any sway in any direction, any under the radar vote could swing this thing. and there is no runoff here. it's winner take all, highest tally gets the nod. fascinating. polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. local time in chicago. we will bring you the results tomorrow as we get them in. if youthen this willbrids arbe a nice surprise. meet the 5-passenger ford c-max hybrid. c-max come. c-max go. c-max give a ride to everyone it knows. c max has more passenger volume than competitor prius v and we haven't even mentioned... c-max also gets better mpg. say hi to the super fuel efficient ford c-max hybrid. and i have a massive heart attack right in my driveway.
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here is why you do not want to be white house press secretary. i mean, there is the long hours, there is the stress, there is the extra stress on top of the stress, but then there is this too. >> in light of the times square bomber citing drone strikes for doing what he did, wonder if there are any more discussions within the administration about that policy? >> none that i would get into publicly. >> a u.s. drone strike killed eight germans in pakistan today. do you have any information about that? >> i don't. and if i did, if i did, i wouldn't get into it. no. no. >> and other u.s. officials have confirmed these predator drone air strikes in pakistan.
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what is it about not confirming whether the president was consulted -- >> i'm not going to get into these matters. >> compromise organizational -- >> i'm not going to get into these matters. >> don't you think there is justifiable curiosity -- >> i think there are many things you should be justifiably curious about, but i'm not not going to get into talking about it. >> if other members of the government are confirming this, why are you not -- >> i'm not going to get into these matters. >> keep asking. there will be no answers. it was not just robert gibbs' problem. it turns out it is a problem of that job, no matter who has the job. >> reported a drone strike today along the border region. as you know, afghan and pakistani officials have been vocal about their concerns about them possibly killing civilians as opposed to terrorists. what can you say to address their concerns? and can you talk a little bit about the president's thinking about when it comes to drone strikes? >> you know, i won't talk about
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anything specific like that. >> did drone strikes make it les simple to the american people to understand when these are secret and often done without -- >> you're trying to get me to talk about things that i can't talk about from the podium. >> the president has acknowledged the drones. why can't you? >> again, i'm just going to point you to what he said and not discuss further this issue. >> it's a facade. it's silly. >> bill, i'm sorry. >> john brennan's firmed cia director. is it safe to assume the drone program will continue? >> i'm just not going to. i think there have been some discussion of the drone program as it relates to the department of defense. but i'm not going to get into any further discussion of it here. >> at the last bit there, there was a clue. as it relates to the department of defense. so maybe the department of defense is the police to ask. maybe we have been asking in the wrong place. let's ask at the department of defense. let's ask the military. >> ask you for an update on
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pentagon drone operations. >> probably not. >> well, let's hear what you have to say when i ask the question. >> okay. >> it has now been widely acknowledged that the u.s. military earlier this year, the military, pentagon, flew drone operations over pakistan's border region in cooperation with the pakistanis to collect reconnaissance information and show it to them. can you talk about why the u.s. military is now flying drone operations or did fly drone operations over pakistan? >> i can't. i know you say it's widely acknowledged. i don't know how widely anything has been acknowledged on that count. i don't think it's appropriate for me at this podium to discuss operations that may or may not be taking place. >> what concerns do you have that these u.s. government drone strikes in pakistan may be
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backfiring now and simply creating more enemies of the united states? >> i refer your questions to other people. that's not something we speak to or are involved in. >> who would you refer them to, jeff? where should i -- >> do you not want a question, justin? >> i do want a question, but barbara is still talking. >> barbara, do you have a follow? >> would you tell me where you would refer that to? >> you would have to talk to somebody other than the pentagon. we don't talk to those operational matters because they don't involve us. yes. >> they don't involve us. you have to talk to somebody -- not here. i refer your questions to other people. i think he is talking about the cia. let's check with the cia then to see how the cia handles these questions at their daily press briefs. all right. they don't do that. and so that's where questions about this policy go to die. this week in addition to the chuck hagel defense secretary nomination, the senate is
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expected to advance president obama's nominee to head the cia, john brennan. senator john mccain is proposing holding up the nomination of john brennan because, well, john mccain. but even in the midst of that conflict, there is an interesting confluence of opinion right now that something major should be changed in mr. brennan's field of expertise. mr. brennan broached the subject in a "washington post" profile that ran about him last october. the acting director of the cia from whom mr. brennan would take over if he is confirmed, that acting director raised the issue in an article "the new york times" published about the cia in december. and now the man, the republican senator who is threatening to hold up the brennan nomination so the acting director has to stay on, this republican senator, he too says that he agrees that something big needs to be changed. >> what we really need to do is take this whole program out of the hands of the central intelligence agency and put it into the department of defense where you have adequate oversight, you have committee oversights, you have all the things that are built in as our
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oversight the department of defense. but since when is the intelligence agency supposed to be an air force of drones that goes around killing people? i believe that it's a job for the department of defense. >> so says john mccain. so says the man whose nomination john mccain is threatening to block. so says the man who be replaced by the nomination john mccain is threatening to block. what if drones were used like normal tools of war? what if drones were used by the military instead of by our government that makes grown men have to deny to our faces that we know something is going on. that would stop the oh, no you didn't denial that has sometimes made a joke out of the job of sometimes explaining the actions of the united states of america. let's ask a guy who is in a position to know, because he recently had that job. we'll be right back with that. wears off. been there. tried that. ladybug body milk? no thanks.
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do you think the white house has been forthcoming, sufficiently forth coming? we have these seven memos right now. we haven't seen any of those. >> right. >> the white paper got released right before brennan, not by the white house, but leak apparently. do you think you have been sufficiently forthcoming and the white house has been sufficiently forth coming on this stuff? >> well, i think you have seen recently the president discuss the need and desire to be more
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forthcoming. i certainly think there are aspects of that program that are and will remain highly sensitive and very secret be. let me give you an example here, chris. when i went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the things, one of the first things they told me was you're not even to acknowledge the drone program. you're not even to discuss that it exists. >> wow. >> so i would get a question like that, and literally, i couldn't tell you what major ask, once i figured out it's about the drone program, i figure out i'm not supposed to talk about. here is what is inherently crazy about that proposition. you're being asked a question base on reporting of a program that exists. >> right. >> so you're the official government spokesperson. >> exactly. >> acting as if the entire program -- pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. i think in many ways, and i think what the president has seen, and i have not talked to him about this. i want to be careful. this is my opinion. but i think what the president has seen is our denial of the
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existence of the program when it's obviously happening undermines people's confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes. and in order to bolster that confidence and bolster the belief that we're making those correct decisions on this policy, you do have to lift the veil some to both acknowledge that it exists, as he has done, but also to do it in a way that provides better understanding. >> former white house press secretary robert gibbs speaking with chris hayes on "up with chris hayes" this weekend on msnbc. joining us for the interview is robert gibbs. he was white house press secretary for the obama administration. he is now an msnbc contributor, and hopefully not regretting it yet. >> not yet. i'll tell you in a few minutes. >> all right. well, why were you told that you can't talk about it? why were you told you can't acknowledge the existence of the program? >> well, part of this program is highly classified, highly top secret.
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and quite frankly, this program has existed for many years. and very few, if any have ever publicly acknowledged that. that started -- that changed a bit last year late april of 2012 when john brennan, who understood probably better than anybody the inherent tension that i spoke about, which is it's not sustainable to have somebody sitting in the front row of the white house briefing room, or any journalist reading in the newspaper about a terrorist that has been killed by a program that when you ask me about it, i don't even talk about the fact that the program is there. he understood there was that inherent unsustainable tension, and that some transparency absolutely had to take place. that's why i think if you -- and if your viewers go back and look at that speech that john gives in april of 2012, it's an extraordinary speech. it took a long time to get that speech through the bureaucracy and through the government so
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that somebody could finally on camera begin to speak about what this program entails. >> going through the transcripts of all the different white house press briefs. >> painful. >> but you saw after that speech, instead of you having to say i will not speak about this, instead we see jay carney being able to say i refer you to mr. brennan's speech. >> right. >> and that could be the on record comment about it. but let me ask you specifically. i mean drones are a tool. they're not -- there is nothing magic about them. there is nothing different about them than other forms of waging war. we drop the same missiles from other platforms as well. could you talk about a drone strike that was operated by the u.s. military in afghanistan, but you couldn't talk about one that was operated by another government agency somewhere else? >> you probably would have a lot morley way as i think john has talked about. you would have a lot morley way if you moved the military activities of our government specifically into -- >> the military. >> the government, the part of
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the government that does military. now, that's not to say the intelligence community doesn't have a big role to play. intelligence gathering, identifying where the bad guys are should and always will be the mission of the central intelligence agency and all of our intelligence agencies. but i think what john believes is when we need to deal with any aspect of military activities, those military activities should be conducted by the pentagon. and i think that, again, is a change in the program because, again, john understands where we are is just not sustainable. >> it would change a lot -- this is the argument that john mccain has made, and i agree with him on very little, national security and otherwise. but the argument he has made is actually what seems right to me, which is that it's not necessarily an operational distinction between who can fly the drone. the military is very adept at flying drones and killing people with them. the issue is legal and democratic. it's in terms of the types of accountability and oversight that we have are different
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between something being done by the cia and something done -- >> absolutely. different parts of the law. and more importantly, i will say this, the drone program has saved lives in this country. it has saved a lot of lives in our military. it is -- it's a program that has done great damage to al qaeda. and that's a very, very good thing. >> i don't think that is the controversial part of it. i think the controversial part of it is we seem to be waging war with part of our country that isn't designed to be accountable to us as civilians for war-making. >> and again, i think that's the important aspect of what the president said during the state of the union was to say, look, we are a democracy. we are a country that is bigger than any one person, regardless of who that president is. that president always has to be accountable to the people. that's the type of change that john was pushing for in that april speech. >> okay. so two questions come from that for me.
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mike morel, the explicitly -- foreign policy heads like john mccain in the senate making the argument that it should be military instead of cia. should we see the president's nomination of john brennan to run the cia as a sign that the president agrees with that, and that that change is going to happen? >> i believe so, and i think you know, john has been at the forefront of this. it was john's idea to give that speech in april. john's idea to understand that again, we had this -- something just simply unsustainable. you can't continue with this program in the society and the democracy and the values that we have in it by continuing to hide something and keep it under such depths of secrecy, and also as you said, not to have some real genuine oversight. >> i understand the argument for why missions have to be secret, why operations have to be secret. i don't understand why law has to be secret.
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and i don't understand how we can in a democratic system, as you are suggesting, have something that kills many people, that goes on for years, that is a large-scale program that the government denies. >> right. >> and so if it moves to military, maybe it there will be less denial. but there is still that issue of secret law. i mean, after we heard from the president that you can't take my word for it in the senate, we need to have more transparency in the senate. even the intelligence community is trying to pry the legal matters out of the white house to explain why there is legal reasoning that says this is legal. that, to me, strikes of secret law, which doesn't seem in line with the president's assertions. >> first of all, the memos were released because in part of that transparency. but we're not going to put this
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on wikipedia overnight, these are highly classified operations. i think you will see the beginnings in walking people through the legal justifications for a whole host of these operations. and i think again, that is what i think the president believes, and john believes so are so important to make more public and to have more people understand. as you said there will always be aspects of this program, operationally as it relates to entities in foreign governments that always will be highly classified. but you think you will see the beginnings, as you heard john do in april, and the president as you heard most recently in the state of the union to begin to lift that veil. >> i think we're in an incredibly intense moment, because john mccain and president obama have made great arguments for lifting that veil. and now everybody is waiting to see how that comes to light.
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robert gibbs, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back. i have low testosterone. there, i said it. how did i know? well, i didn't really. see, i figured low testosterone would decrease my sex drive... but when i started losing energy and became moody... that's when i had an honest conversation with my doctor. we discussed all the symptoms... then he gave me some blood tests. showed it was low t. that's it. it was a number -- not just me. [ male announcer ] today, men with low t have androgel 1.62% (testosterone gel). the #1 prescribed topical testosterone replacement therapy, increases testosterone when used daily. women and children should avoid contact with application sites. discontinue androgel and call your doctor if you see unexpected signs of early puberty in a child, or signs in a woman, which may include changes in body hair or a large increase in acne, possibly due to accidental exposure.
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things about the oscars, at least officially, because a film, "separation" won the oscar, the first one to win. you would think it would be a good thing for the nation of iran. but then the director gave his acceptance speech, which apparently was a problem in iran. he said iran's glorious culture, a rich and old culture is hidden under the dust of politics, i proudly respect all people of civilizations and cultures, that is nice's right? that is what the iranian director said on oscar night. they did not like that speech at all. they disliked it so much that they enhanced it. they changed it. again, here is what he said, i proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people who respect all countries and civilizas,

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